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Continued: Rift over Syria exposed at G8 summit; Putin defies US, Europe's calls to end support for Assad

  • Article by: JULIE PACE , AP White House Correspondent
  • Last update: June 17, 2013 - 11:39 PM

Obama, who has long signaled a preference for deepening U.S. engagement in Syria in conjunction with international partners, was expected to urge his British and French counterparts to join the U.S. in boosting lethal aid to the opposition. Syria was the primary topic among the G-8 leaders at a working dinner Monday night.

Britain, which is hosting the summit, has pressed leaders to ensure the meeting results in a statement on Syria, including the need for greater humanitarian access. The U.K. floated the possibility of releasing a statement even without Russia's approval, but a British official said the dinner resulted in broad consensus among the leaders on key points.

While Putin did not publicly criticize the U.S. decision to arm the opposition during his meeting with Obama, he exhibited far less restraint Sunday following his meeting with Cameron.

"One hardly should back those who kill their enemies and, you know, eat their organs," he said, referencing a gruesome Internet video purportedly showing a rebel commander committing an act of cannibalism.

"Do we want to support these people?" Putin asked. "Do we want to supply arms to these people?"

Among the other options being considered by the U.S. — though reluctantly is a no-fly zone to stop Assad from using his air power to crush rebel forces of kill civilians. But European nations are so far opposed to that idea, and Obama's own aides have publicly questioned the feasibility, given Assad's air defenses and the significant costs of such a program.

Perhaps signaling another fight to come between the U.S. and Russia, the foreign ministry in Moscow said Russia would veto a motion to set up a no-fly zone if the U.S. sought authorization from the United Nations Security Council.

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